Musetec (LKS) MH-DA005 DAC

Some history: I was the OP on a four year old thread about the Chinese LKS MH-DA004 DAC. It achieved an underground buzz. The open architecture of its predecessor MH-DA003 made it the object of a lot of user mods, usually to its analog section, rolling op amps or replacing with discrete. The MH-DA004 with its new ESS chips and JFET analog section was called better then the modified older units. It has two ES9038pro DAC chips deliberately run warm, massive power supply, powered Amanero USB board, JFET section, 3 Crystek femtosecond clocks, Mundorf caps, Cardas connectors, etc., for about $1500. For this vinyl guy any reservation about ESS chips was resolved by the LKS implimentaion, but their revelation of detail was preserved, something that a listener to classic music especially appreciated. I made a list of DACs (many far more expensive) it was compared favorably to in forums. Modifications continued, now to clocks and caps. Components built to a price can be improved by costlier parts and the modifiers wrote glowingly of the SQ they achieved.

Meanwhile, during the 4 years after release of the MH-DA004, LKS (now Musetec) worked on the new MH-DA005 design, also with a pair of ES9038pro chips. This time he used more of the best components available. One torroidal transformer has silver plated copper. Also banks of super capacitors that act like batteries, solid silver hookup wire, 4 femtoclocks each costing multiples of the Crysteks, a revised Amanero board, more of the best European caps and a new partitioned case. I can't say cost NO object, but costs well beyond. A higher price, of course. Details at

The question, surely, is: How does it sound? I'm only going to answer indirectly for the moment. I thought that the MH-DA004 was to be my last DAC, or at least for a very long time. I was persuaded to part with my $$ by research, and by satisfaction with the MH-DA004. Frankly, I have been overwhelmed by the improvement; just didn't think it was possible. Fluidity, clarity, bass extension. A post to another board summed it up better than I can after listening to piano trios: "I have probably attended hundreds of classical concerts (both orchestral and chamber) in my life. I know what live sounds like in a good and bad seat and in a good and mediocre hall. All I can say is HOLY CRAP, this sounds like the real thing from a good seat in a good hall. Not an approximation of reality, but reality."



Your post is, as always, enlightening.  As you write, it is a matter of perspective.  I remember old posts on Audiogon suggesting that the Holo May R2R provides a middle-of-the-hall sound rather than the up-close sound of a SD chip.  This is suggestive of a more blended sound and might seem at odds with any exaggerated sense of space and separation.  I guess my point is that no one is evaluating a DAC in isolation.  The DAC exists in an environment of the digital chain preceding it, and of the analog components following it.  The other half of the environment is the musical genre.  Change any of these and a DAC evaluation or comparison will change.

In any event I'm glad the thread you initiated is out front again.  You have demonstrated what a review might be.  This Instead of simply throwing out a few conclusory words. 

@melm Thanks for the kind words. I agree with your comments on the effect of the entire chain. Still, in a nut shell, I would say the May tends to make a small ensemble sound big by adding seperation and a big ensemble lacking in detail. Again, my perspective is realism, not untethered pleasure. I do not mean to imply those who go for the euphoric sound are misguided. They just have different priorities, perspective and musical preferences.

After having owned this product a solid 3 weeks, I fail the see the hype. I see what it does to the audio and how it does clean it up a bit, but I don't see it leaps and bounds ahead of what other 1k$ priced dacs offer. In fact, ive had nothing but problems and misery since I've bought this dam thing. Glitches in audio, random disconnects, random desyncs and other problems that don't fix themselves until unplugging the usb. There are times when I watch a video, hit pause, and the audio buffer decides to keep playing on a loop non stop. Super annoying. I think there's something wrong with these Amanero drivers. I'm tempted to return this dam thing. For 3k$ it was supposed to make my life so much easier, but instead its been nothing but troublesome. Furthermore, the Amanero board does NOT remotely come close to removing all the noise from a PC. I still have some mild background static. Its  better than my previous dacs, but its built in galvanic isolation is really mediocre at best. I was really expecting much better filtering out of it, but I guess theres no avoiding having to buy a 3rd party isolator. Oh well. So yeah, who else has usb driver problems with this thing?

@turcoda Can you describe your setup in more detail? Have you contacted Jinbo, the manufacturer?

@turcoda Let’s see if we can get your 005 fixed. Here are a few suggestions.

1. It’s going to take a full 8 weeks to burn in.

2. If you are using a Windows computer you must install the Windows ASIO driver, Apple or Linux don’t need drivers.

Click download MH-DA005 USB drivers

3. I suspect you may have put the DVD sound HDMI cable into the I2s/HDMI input on the 005.

4. If you are feeding your DVD sound out into the 005 and then an amp/processor you need to exit the DVD using RCA/COAX Digital or Toslink into the 005 and then use the RCA or AES/EBU analogue outputs into your amp/processor.

I can only surmise on your situation, if you can give a more detailed explanation of your system that would help.